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Literature Chapter 1 - The Portrait of a Lady

This article will help you to learn about the summary, characters and themes in chapter 1, NCERT Class 11 English Hornbill – The Portrait of a Lady. It will help you to understand the gist and important phases in this story.


This chapter deals with a story about a grandmother. The author speaks about his old grandmother and his perception of her. He feels that she has been old for many years and cannot believe people claiming her to have been young and beautiful once. He speaks about how graceful she looks in her old age and would spend time in remembrance of the Lord. He recalls his childhood memories with her and how the situation changed as he grew up.

Character List

Grandmother – This is the only character in the story as this whole story revolves around the author’s grandmother. She is old yet graceful. The author’s grandmother is short, feeble, fat and always bent due to her age. He describes her as old and feels she must have been old for a long time. The author denies the fact that she was young once and would have played games as children do since he had never seen her that way.

She seems to be so old that she couldn’t grow older but should remain the same forever. The old lady accepts the changes of life and has her way of dealing with it. She loves to feed birds and spend time praising the Lord. She enjoys her solace and had accepted the busy lives of her children and grandchildren.


The story ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ speaks about the life of an old lady who is the grandmother of the narrator. In this story, you will see the struggle of old age and a peaceful acceptance of solitude. The old lady does not express her feelings and is always contented with everything that happens in her life. The story revolves around the author and his grandmother, their changing relationship and her being unaffected by the changes. It beautifully describes the relationship shared by grandparents with their grandchildren and how the feelings fade gradually as the child grows up.

This story describes the modern contemporary lifestyle where relationships fade as all get busy with their own lives. The older generation suffers the most as they need time and attention. In this story, the old lady seems to have accepted the fact that her children are busy making their lives and she peacefully accepted the changes. She got herself busy with the birds and God. This lesson gives a clear picture of the life of an old age person who is left all alone and has learnt to live with the solitude.

To know more on NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Chapter 1, and for ‘The Portrait of a Lady’ Solutions, refer to NCERT Solutions for Class 11 English Hornbill Chapter 1 PDF.

Click on the links below to browse Class 11 English Chapter 1- The Portrait of a Lady question and answers.

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